MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Residents of the Lower Keys and Key West are stunned by the damage and destruction caused by Hurricane Irma.
On Big Pine Key, homes are destroyed and boats are strewn everywhere.
“The water, that’s what did everything here,” said Ron Garwood who rode out the storm in his trailer.
Garwood said the water rose to about four feet. He said he’s worried about the impact on the tourism industry, the economic lifeline of the Keys.
“We’re strong. I think people will support us and I think they will be back down here,” he said.
The power remains out on most of Key West, piles of debris line Duval Street. Water is in short supply and soldiers handed out food and water to people who were grateful to get it.
“There’s nothing here. I’ve been through Wilma and Katrina and I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire life,” said Marty Harbin whose home on Big Pine Key was destroyed.
Harbin, a Monroe County Sheriff’s deputy assigned to the check point in Florida City, said it’s hard to tell people they can’t go home yet.
“When it touches home like this, it’s really tough,” he said.
Monroe County is only open to Mile Marker 73 in Islamorada. Only residents or business owners in the Upper Keys are allowed into the county. Only first responders and preapproved workers who are helping with the response are allowed past that point.
Anyone at Mile Marker 73 must leave before the dusk-to-dawn curfew that is in effect throughout the Keys.
People at the Mile Marker 73 checkpoint who don’t reside in the Upper Keys must either leave the Keys or go to Coral Shores High School at Mile Marker 90 in Tavernier. It is open as a shelter of last resort, there are no services.